Super-Conductor Turbines Expected to Reduce Wind Energy Cost in Australia

Australian researchers have developed new super-conductor turbines that could considerably improve the present day turbines and make possible the expansion of off-shore wind turbines within five years along the coast of Australia.

A team of researchers from the Institute of Superconducting and Electronic Materials from the University Of Wollongong, New South Wales developed the new turbines that is 40% lighter than the turbines currently in use. This was achieved by simply removing the gear box that makes up present-day turbines. Eliminating the expensive, heavy and complex gear box also meant eliminating a big chunk of maintenance.

A superconductor is an element that sends electrons from one atom to another conducts elect with ease. This means that when the material reaches the critical temperature, the degree of heat when it becomes superconductive, no sound, heat or any form of energy will be discharged or released.

In a talk with, Shahriar Hossain, materials scientist and lead researcher of the team said that their design did not include a gear box, which immediately trimmed the weight and size of a turbine by 40%. Instead they are replacing the gear box with a magnesium diboride superconducting coil that will capture the wind energy and transform it into electricity with no power loss while cutting down maintenance and manufacturing cost by 2/3.

The cost of the newly developed turbine is also a lot less than the cost of turbines currently in use. Compared to $15 million, the cost of building the current turbines, the newly developed turbine will only cost about $3 to $5 million.

According to Hossain, Australia is in dire need of sources for sustainable energy and in as much Australia has over 35,000 km of coastline, there is extensive possibilities for offshore wind farms, and wind is clean and cheap and readily available on sunny and rainy days. Hossain said that with industry support, within five years they could set up superconducting offshore wind turbines along the coastline of Australia.

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